Day -6: A Few Choice Hors D'Oeuvres Of Observation

I don't have a 'real' blog post today. I just have several tidbits -- things I realized over the past few days.

No, I didn't make this.

  • Interestingly enough, I find that whenever I start a novel, I automatically default to third person past, omniscient, even if it changes later. However, whenever I start a short story, I automatically default to first person present. Both are written equally badly, but I wonder what that means. 
  • My stories keep blending together. Maybe it's because I'm working on different things, as they bite me, so inspiration leaks. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, and it's really just that you can't avoid some cliches, which are so general that they're common to all, and it'll sort itself out as I keep writing; the devil is, as they say, in the details. Maybe it has nothing to do with working on separate projects or not, and the characters/worlds really are the same; maybe I just tend to create characters along certain repeated tropes. MAYBE it's all three! At this point, I don't know whether I'm just worrying too much (I mean, everything is still really abstract at this point, not much than thematic at best), or whether there really is something to worry about. It's all a big fat 'I don't know!' At the same time, I can't simply focus on one project, even though it's what I'd prefer, because once I do, that story starts taking me for granted, and promptly sulks in a corner, and refuses to cooperate.
  • I'm shamelessly ripping this off of a forum post I wrote earlier, regarding something I noticed lately: Adequate characters are holograms (seeming real but fizzling out when you poke them) because they reflect the trope. Good characters are 3D because they show reality. Compelling characters go beyond the semblance of reality, and actively create the world around them. My point is, in order to make a character seem real to the reader, the character can't just be real, but has to be more than real. Part of that is due to the limitation of the written word, or non-auditory/non-visual sensory deprivation of film/television. How many real people do we know who would make good characters, exactly as they are, life and all? Story logic doesn't work like real life logic. The most human characters are superhuman. The most lifelike characters are larger than life. The most realistic story is larger than life. How or why this works, I can't say. I wish I knew. All I can say is, the beauty in it lies in the creator's ability to project not The reality, but to project a lie -- warped perceptions, misunderstandings, lying narrators, perceptions shaped by biases, and all. I wish I knew how to do this. How do you break through the wall of the trope? I don't want trope. I don't necessarily want to be a George R.R. Martin -- I mean, after all, I'm not him -- but I do want to similarly break the walls, in my own way. I want them to define themselves, and not be defined by any of my mental restrictions. The strongest characters, the ones that leap off the page, not only build the world for us, but they build the world as they see it. 
  • And as they don't see it. We all know that moment when we see through a character's eyes, and we, the consumers, know a moment when we know something is wrong, but the character doesn't. Wrong boyfriend. Wrong door. Wrong career choice. Wrong path in a moral dilemma. This most especially hits home in an opening scene -- ever see the opening for something, and you just know that the character is in the wrong place, but doesn't know it? It basically sets the tone for the entire story. I wish I knew how to do this. So far, when I've read books, or watched openers in film/TV, I was never able to figure out how they did it.
  • I am my own worst enemy. My fear of failure is so potent that it's woven into me like one of those choking vines around an old tree. It's gotten so bad that it literally stops me every other sentence. Even if I find myself writing randomly, under the heady throes of muse bite, the fever cuts me down before I can even eke out a sentence of the burgeoning brilliance bullshit. Then I slog on, writing on autopilot, never hitting the heights, because after every other sentence thereafter, my own inner editor tells me I'm not a good writer, and that I should just quit. This voice is so insidious that I thought I'd defeated it already when I got into a daily writing habit -- and only today realized that I'm still crippling myself. How do you defeat something like that?
There. I think that wall of text counts as a post, right?


Camp Countdown: Day -12, Or, A Skeptical Muse And The Terror of the Lapine Glomp

I'm insane.

12 days until Camp NaNoWriMo, and I decide to do a blogging challenge?

After I said I would never again do one of these things?

And then I go and create one myself?

As usual, I'm going to skip straight past what's been going on in The Tree of Life, because most of you already know, and for those that don't...*sigh* It's mostly me having nervous breakdowns in the Chasm of Despair.

Anyway, what I plan to do this Camp is to work on the second draft of Dark Arcana: The Amber of Time.

Henry: Writing a second draft requires that you sort of write a first draft.

Quiet, Henry. You know nothing of such matters.

*Henry opens her mouth*

It's true. Muses don't.

Muses get to lounge about on comfortable chairs, chuck out ideas, and criticize as and when they please. It is their minions we who get the unenviable task of finding plot holes (an experience akin to stepping in a land mine, except when you step in a land mine you get to go to the hospital), and filling out said plot holes.

In writer words, something I'd much rather not do.

That's why I went straight for the second draft. I have with me a plot pile, which is sort of wandering mental prose doodling, and which I suppose could be called a Zeroth draft. It can't be the first draft, because there's really no defined start and end point. I just started writing, and stopped when I got so deep in the Chasm of Despair that I started running out of dental floss.

And, in so many, many words, that's my plan for Camp: treat it like a first draft. Go through, make notes, and write down every single mental leap I make. Hopefully the end result will be something resembling enough of an outline, or an outright draft, that I can finally admit I've finished something.

*Henry starts laughing*

I have a special gif that shows how much my dear muse believes in me.

But I have a plan! That's P-L-N plan!

*Watches a giant plot bunny walking out of a field*

*Without moving its legs*


I'm a believer in taking advantage of the Lapine Glomp. Ray Bradbury never worked on an idea until it came and bit him, and I find that the same strategy is working for me. This is quite different from not writing and waiting around for the muse. Muses never just show up. They need bait.

Henry: That's quite untrue! I show up all the time, and no beckoning needed!

Me: *raises eyebrow and puts out a heap of autopilot writing*

Henry: Something smells really good. I...must...follow...

I'll be writing. I'll be writing every day. I just won't force myself to work on Dark Arcana if it doesn't want to cooperate. I swear, writing is like trying to feed a running two year old. You don't run after the two year old. You let them come to you. (According to my mother, this really works. >_>)


Maybe I should get off this neverending blog post and go write actual story instead, before I resort to finding yet another silly gif to fill the big empty space.

At least it's not a silly gif. AND this album totally gets me in the mood for Dark Arcana. Shut up, Henry! This totally counts as homework!


A Predilection For Procrastination

Oh, you're here. Quick, get behind that tree! Oh, please don't let it find me!

I'm writing this post because I'm procrastinating from writing.

That has to be the worst reason to write a blog post ever.

*Stops typing.*
*Googles "Worst reasons to make a blog"*

Nope. Nothing there.

For some reason, the mobile blogger site decided to tag this post with Tom Hiddleston, and now it won't let me edit that text box, so I feel like I have to mention Tom somewhere in this post now. XD

We now return our regularly scheduled bullshit program.

Oh no! That sudden tangent punched a hole in the blogosphere and created a massive energy fluctuation that attracted the plot bunny's attention! It's found me! Aaargh!

Okay, as promised, here is yet another excerpt of Deus Ex Machina.

This was the city of Planet Hell on Drunei. Michron Nebulon was at the epicenter of society, in the heart of the buzzing behemoth. The crowd surged around him; he stood free and lonely as the desert sky, and already he felt more like a Commoner than he ever had at Exxox.

What? I never said how long it would be!

Also, I just wanted to name a place Planet Hell.

*Crawls under a conveniently placed rock*

This hiding is part of a larger pattern. It's been days since I logged into my desktop. I've been ducking behind a corner every time I think of opening up Scrivener. I've been sneaking a few sentences into plain text files here and there. 

I don't want to know what my word count is. I don't want to see the collective whole. I'm afraid of opening it up to find a giant pile of crap staring back at me.

Thus you see me, the guerrilla writer.

*ninjas off a few more words*

I think I might actually have broken a thousand today, with this intermittent writing. I still don't have a count, but we'll see what we'll see. 

And now, it is 12AM, and I'm dead sleepy. Adieu waking world. Parting is such sweet--



A Hamster In The Dark

The correct party to whom you might apportion the blame for this post entity's existence is my friend Maxwell, over on The Wandering Quille. Around me, blog posts from the internets wastelands that formed at the beginning of 2013 are starting to pop up like little guilt gophers with big blinky eyes. I suppose I'll join the ranks, and be grumpy about how I feel like I'm running while standing still, like a hamster on a treadmill in a dark, empty room.

*Cue Dio singing A Rainbow Hamster in the Dark*

That has got to be the worst reason for a blog post ever. 

Be that as it may, it's that time of year where writers everywhere suddenly start waking up after the January doldrums. In my case, it's been a little more than a month since I started writing Deus Ex Machina.

That recurring quote in Battlestar Galactica comes to mind -- "All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again." 

What it means is, this is the time frame when my stories fall apart. I start feeling like I've made no progress. I feel like my characters are flatlining. I start spiraling into the Chasm of Despair, in a fit of black depression, feeling like I'm the worst writer on the planet.

Which is exactly what happened. 

I've ranted about all of this before, and I will rant about all of this again, so there is no need to go into it all, because the answers remain the same. 

I'm in the pit, and I want out. My characters are bored. My dialogue is wooden. My setting is nonexistent. 

Oh, Exxox. Nothing happens in Exxox. It's the same thing every day. The worst part is, I can't change that. That's the point of Exxox. It's a prison camp hermit retreat for prisoners of state. It's a voluntary retreat from the rest of humanity.

Yet, for some reason, two agents have decided that this is where they have to be.

Also, why does it so prominently allow access to the Sybe? And what's with the hyperspatial death hallways? I know what Exxox is supposed to symbolize, but how to turn it into plot, I have no clue.

Then there's the moon that looks so boring that no one even looks twice at it, yet Ante says that it's haunted by something beyond science.

There's the virtual reality realm inhabited by The Presence, mysterious NPCs which come and go as they please, which seem to serve no purpose, and whose origin no one knows. Yet, Mike and Nova seem to have the ability to control them. Who is the master, and why?

There are movements and migrations all over the place. Suddenly, the human government decides to kick the  Earthmen off of Earth. 

There are the mysterious red discs, each the size of a large thumbnail, which shine like the eye of Sauron in the darkness...also known as the Chaos Nodules, also known as a Maguffin.

There is the force of the Chaos Division, a.k.a. Memory Men, an organization of official "paper shredders," who erase from history any incidents the government and anyone else with enough money wants covered up. (Not the same as the Agency, which is Khronos Division -- I don't think they have time travel.)

There is Michron Nebulon, a mysterious man with a past that he seems to prefer forgotten. I could launch into an entire blog post by itself of his idiosyncracies, but suffice it to say that he could have anything in the world that he wants, but he doesn't want most of it. I won't say much more, because spoilers, but I am wondering why he is in Exxox, and why he and Crais are simultaneously enemies on the weekdays and friends on the weekends.

There is Nova, who is a homeless Syber star, and who doesn't even seem to want to be in the story. 

There are Crais and Ante, the former a Memory Man, the latter a Sybernetic soldier, or Sybernaut, who, for some reason, think Exxox is the place for the cool kids, and who love stepping on each other's toes.

There is also Rena, who is...Rena. I have a feeling that she will serve as one of those narrators who is there for a lot of the story, but whose actions aren't as central. Oh, and that brings up an awkward question that you'd think I'd have thought about before: who is Rena? I have a feeling that that's something that might even turn out to be central to the plot.

Oh, and I can't forget about the depressed Imperator of humanity, and his ailing son, Victor. 

Then, of course, there is Nicholas, who gets sent off on a huge ship into the deeps of space, and meets mysterious space elves who warn of a great danger that threatens to engulf all sentient species.

Then there is C. Valen, the existential Earth girl who refuses to leave Earth.

I know all of these things are related, but I don't yet know how. I have no plot. I know what I want this story to be, but I have no idea how to turn it into that. I want an epic science fiction story, of the sort that often comes up in fantasy, except this is science fiction. It may not always be hard science fiction, and may sometimes venture into science fantasy, but that's about the gist of it.

Oh, and how do I summarize this whole thing? Lord of the Rings in space. It's not at all the same story, really, but it resonates in some ways.

Anyway, the only thing I know to do at this point is to keep writing, and to hope that something will make sense at some point. So forth I venture, running and standing still...or not. 

That hamster wheel better be comfortable.